Public Health Confirms 44 New COVID-19 Cases, Capping County's Worst Week Since January

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Humboldt County Public Health Laboratory staff Paula Moon (left) and Alyssa McCloud catalog incoming tests. - PUBLIC HEALTH
  • Public Health
  • Humboldt County Public Health Laboratory staff Paula Moon (left) and Alyssa McCloud catalog incoming tests.

Humboldt County Public Health confirmed 44 new COVID-19 cases today — making 169 for the week, the highest weekly tally since late January and a more than doubling of last week's total of 84. It's the highest single-day total since mid-May.

One new hospitalization was also reported today and, according to a state database, 13 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 locally, including two under intensive care.

Today's cases were confirmed after laboratories processed 393 samples with a test positivity rate of 11.2 percent. Statewide, the test-positivity rate over the past seven days sits at 4.1 percent — the highest since February — which is dwarfed by the local rate of 11.9 percent over the same period, which is the highest Humboldt County has seen at any point in the last year.

The county also confirmed Wednesday that two of the county's then 222 hospitalizations and none of its 53 COVID-related deaths recorded to date were so-called "breakthrough cases" confirmed in fully vaccinated individuals.

In today's press release, the county reminded that the data is incredibly clear that the vaccines are effective in preventing serious illness and death.

"Out of more than 20 million vaccinated Californians, fewer than 1 percent contracted the virus and only 0.003 percent required hospitalization, according to the California Department of Public Health," the press release states.

“The data is clear,” Mark Ghaly, Secretary of the California Department of Health & Human Services Agency, said in a statement earlier this month. “Nearly all new COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths are preventable.”

In recent weeks, local officials have been warning that residents age 19 and younger are increasingly accounting for case spread locally amid an upwelling in cases of the Delta variant, which now accounts nearly 85 percent of new infections nationally. The Delta variant is believed to be more contagious than other COVID-19 varieties and to result in more severe illness. In today's press release, public health reported that it was found in 25 percent of samples that underwent genomic sequencing last month.

On the vaccination front, the county reports that roughly 50 percent of the local population is now fully vaccinated and 55 percent of residents have now received at least one dose of the vaccine, according to the county's dashboard. Of the eligible population, 56.4 percent are now fully vaccinated, Public Health reported today.

All of the Public Health vaccinations clinics scheduled this week will include the one-shot Johnson & Johnson and the Pfizer vaccine, the only one authorized for those 12 to 17.

Clinic schedule:

Arcata – Thursday, July 22, from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Arcata Transit Center (925 E St.) Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

Redway – Friday, July 23, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dean Creek RV Park (4112 Redwood Drive) Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

Fortuna – Saturday, July 24, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Redwood AutoXpo (Veterans Memorial Building, 1426 Main St.) Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

Arcata – Saturday, July 24, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Arcata Farmers’ Market (Arcata Plaza, 808 G St.) Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

Arcata – Sunday, July 25, from noon to 4 p.m. Adopt-a-Park Community Event (Mad River Pkwy. E) Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

Trinidad – Thursday, July 29, from noon to 3 p.m.Trinidad Town Hall (409 Trinity St.) Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

Eureka – Friday, July 30, from 1 to 4 p.m.Transition-Age Youth (TAY) Division (433 M St.) Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

To make an appointment in advance or view additional vaccination opportunities and to request help with transportation, visit www.vaccines.gov or www.myturn.ca.gov.

Last week, an advisory committee of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found a likely link between certain mRNA vaccines and extremely rare instances of heart inflammation, which most commonly occurred in young men and ususally cleared itself or with minor treatment. Both the CDC and the FDA continue to recommendation vaccinations for those 12 and older.

To date, Humboldt County has confirmed 4,897 cases, with 225 hospitalizations and 53 confirmed COVID-19 related deaths.

The county dashboard lists 4,624 people as having "recovered" from the virus locally, though that just means they are no longer contagious and does not account for long-term health impacts, which local healthcare workers have told the Journal can be substantial, even in previously healthy patients.

The county’s test positivity rate has gone from 3.6 percent in November, to 7.3 percent in December and 9.9 percent in January, before dropping to 6.5 percent in February. In March, it dropped to 4.5 percent before inching back up to 5.9 percent in April. In May, it jumped to 8.3 percent but fell back to 5.9 percent in June. In July, it has risen to 9.9 percent even as vaccinations have rendered fewer local resident susceptible to infection.

Nationwide, more than 34.3 million cases have been confirmed with 608,113 deaths, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Of those, 3.7 million cases and 63,741related deaths have been confirmed in California, according to the Department of Public Health.

Meanwhile, the county's Joint Information Center is urging locals to get tested, calling it "one of the most helpful things county residents can do for the community at large," because it allows Public Health to catch cases early and limit spread. The state-run OptumServe testing site at the Wharfinger Building in Eureka is open seven days a week and no-cost appointments can be made by clicking here or calling (888) 634-1123 and other newly opened screening site information can be found here.

The Humboldt County Data Dashboard includes hospitalization rates by age group, death rates by age group and case totals by ZIP code, the latter of which are reported in "a range of 0 to 5 for case count until the area surpasses 5 total cases," according to the county. After that threshold has been reached in a ZIP code, the exact number will be included.

Basics of COVID-19

The California Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control, state that symptoms of novel coronavirus include cough and shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, or at least two of the following: fever, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat or a new loss of taste or smell.

Emergency warning signs needing immediate medical attention include difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion or inability to awaken, and bluish lips or face.

In an emergency situation:

Call ahead to the emergency room or inform the 911 operator of the possibility of a COVID-19 infection and, if possible, put on a face mask.

Symptoms or possible exposure:

In the case of a possible exposure with symptoms — fever and cough or shortness of breath — contact your doctor’s office or the county Department of Health and Human Services, which has a hotline that can be reached during business hours at covidinfo@co.humboldt.ca.us or at (707) 441-5000. Residents seeking medical advice or questions about testing are asked to contact Public Health at hhsphb@co.humbldt.ca.us or at (707) 445-6200.

St. Joseph Health has also set up a virtual assessment tool as an aid to assessing risk factors for contracting the illness, which can be found here.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has started a rumor-control webpage that can be found here. For the Journal's latest COVID stories, updates and information resources, click here.

Read the JIC release below:

July 23, 2021 - 44 New Cases Reported Today, Highest Single-Day Total Since Mid-May
Forty-four new cases of COVID-19 and one new hospitalization of a person in their 50s have been reported in Humboldt County today. The total number of county residents who have tested positive for the virus now stands at 4,897.

Today’s is the highest single-day case count reported since May 13, when strong public health measures were in still in place statewide. This week, the seven-day average positivity rate reached 11%, the highest rate for Humboldt County at any point in the last 12 months. Positivity rate is the percentage of tests performed that came back positive and is a critical measure of how widespread infection is in the community.

Vaccination is a safe and effective way to prevent the spread of the virus and to protect against serious illness. Out of more than 20 million vaccinated Californians, fewer than 1% contracted the virus and only 0.003% required hospitalization, according to the California Department of Public Health. “The data is clear,” said Dr. Mark Ghaly, Secretary of the California Department of Health & Human Services Agency, in a statement earlier this month. “Nearly all new COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths are preventable.”

Vaccine is available at Public Health clinics and at most local pharmacies. Walk-ins are welcome at all Public Health clinics, or sign up in advance at MyTurn.ca.gov. See the clinic schedule for the next seven days below.

Fortuna – Saturday, July 24, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Redwood AutoXpo (Veterans Memorial Building, 1426 Main St.)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

Arcata – Saturday, July 24, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Arcata Farmers’ Market (Arcata Plaza, 808 G St.)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson
$10 in Farmers’ Market Cash for the first 30 people who get vaccinated at this clinic.

Arcata – Sunday, July 25, from noon to 4 p.m.
Adopt-a-Park Community Celebration (Mad River Pkwy. E)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

Trinidad – Thursday, July 29, from noon to 3 p.m.
Trinidad Town Hall (409 Trinity St.)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

Eureka – Friday, July 30, from 1 to 4 p.m.
Transition-Age Youth (TAY) Division (433 M St.)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

The Pfizer vaccine is approved for children as young as 12 years old. Minors must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is authorized for those 18 and older.

To check availability of these vaccines, as well as Moderna, at local pharmacies, visit vaccines.gov or text a ZIP code to 438829 to find a participating pharmacy nearby. Most pharmacies allow walk-ins.

View the Humboldt County Data Dashboard online at humboldtgov.org/dashboard, or go to humboldtgov.org/DashboardArchives to download today’s data.

For the most recent COVID-19 information, visit cdc.gov or cdph.ca.gov. Local information is available at humboldtgov.org or by contacting covidinfo@co.humboldt.ca.us or calling 707-441-5000.

Sign up for COVID-19 vaccination: MyTurn.ca.gov
Check for vaccine availability at a local pharmacy: Vaccines.gov
Local COVID-19 vaccine information: humboldtgov.org/VaccineInfo
Humboldt County COVID-19 Data Dashboard: humboldtgov.org/Dashboard
Follow us on Facebook: @HumCoCOVID19
Instagram: @HumCoCOVID19
Twitter: @HumCoCOVID19
Humboldt Health Alert: humboldtgov.org/HumboldtHealthAlert
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